What's Cool In Road Cycling

Elena Cecchini in Strade Bianche

The women rode Strade Bianche for the first time. This race of 103 kilometres took the riders from San Gimignano tot the Piazza del Campo in Siena. On the course lay five gravel sections, good for a total distance of 17.4 kilometres. Megan Guarnier could triumph at the end. Italian champion Elena Cecchini finished on the tenth place, at 4’01”. Teammate Carlee Taylros crossed the finish line as sixteenth, seven seconds later.

The riders reached the first gravel section after almost 33 kilometres. Bad luck for the Lotto Soudal Ladies at that point; Susanna Zorzi crashed. She hurt a shoulder and knee. The Italian had to abandon the race. On the next gravel section, with 9.5 kilometres length the longest of all, the battle began. The field got split up in several groups. A front group of fourteen riders was formed. Elena Cecchini just missed it.

The chase
With two others she chased for twenty kilometres. They followed at only fifteen to twenty seconds, but couldn’t close the gap. They did reel in some of the leaders. That’s how the group with Cecchini could sprint for the tenth place. The victory was for Megan Guarnier, who rode solo to the finish. Her teammate Lizzie Armitstead finished on place two, in front of Elisa Longo Borghini. Cecchini won the sprint of her group and was tenth today.

Elena Cecchini: “I felt good on the first off-road section. The second one was the longest. I was positioned a bit too far. I was part of the first group, but I rode in last position. I lost contact with the others when the rider in front of me braked and I did the same. We only lost about twenty metres, but with the wind it was impossible to catch the others. It was also a disadvantage that Emma Johansson just had a puncture, because the leaders pushed really hard so she couldn’t get back in front. With three we chased the first group for twenty kilometres with a gap of twenty seconds or less. When I heard that nine girls were left in front I decided to aim for that tenth place. I did the sprint full gas and got tenth.”

Happy with the form
“I’m a bit upset that I missed that first group. I have learnt that I need to position better, because the legs are good. I’m taking this into account the next races, starting with the World Cup in Drenthe next Saturday. I’m pretty happy with my form, but I know that it still can improve. I was especially happy with my performance in the Omloop, last weekend where I was sixth. It was a really hard race and the first European race of the season. Everybody wanted to be good there.”

Racing in the home country
“Today was a fantastic race, well organized. We had an early start, the race took off at 9 o’clock this morning. That meant we already had breakfast at six o’clock. I will sleep like a log tonight. It was a special race, also because I was wearing my Italian jersey. The Italian fans were all cheering. This race was not only important for Italian girls though, but also the foreign girls understand this is a really big step for women’s cycling.”

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